Berlin celebrates birth of Germany's first giant panda twins

Berlin zoo celebrates Germany’s first panda cub births

As pandas that give birth to twins usually only raise one of the cubs, Chinese experts of giant panda breeding at Zoo Berlin have made a decision to actively support six-year-old Meng Meng in the rearing process.

According to a press statement issued by Zoo Berlin, the first panda cub was born on August 31 at 6:54pm (GMT 0454) following a gestation period of 147 days.

"She immediately laid the young animal gently on her stomach and began to warm him lovingly with her big paws, her warm breath and the soft fur of her cheeks", the zoo says.

The Berlin zoo announced on Monday that its panda Meng Meng had given birth to two cubs, the first to be born in captivity in Germany.

Giant pandas are classified as a vulnerable species, making the births significant for conservation efforts.

Keepers only confirmed last week that mother Meng Meng was pregnant and she gave birth on Saturday.

Breeding pandas in captivity is extremely hard, according to the BBC.

Dr Knieriem said: "In the beginning, the young have to feed roughly every two to three hours and are dependent on the body heat of their mother to keep warm".

Following a gestation period of 147 days (nearly five months), female panda Meng Meng popped out her very first pup at 6:54 p.m. CEST (12:54 p.m. EST), followed by its twin at 7:42 p.m. CEST (1:42 p.m. EST).

Unlike human parents, however, pandas who give birth to twins usually raise only one of their babies, leaving the other to fend for itself in this cruel world.

Breeding experts from China's Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding Zoo have stepped in to help six-year-old Meng Meng look after both cubs.

"There are only 1,864 adult pandas now living in their natural habitat", said Knieriem.

We don't know the sex of the babies but the zoo said the two cubs weighed in at 136 and 186 grams.

"What fantastic news! The whole of Berlin is delighted about the new arrivals", Berlin's mayor Michael Mueller was quoted in the press statement as saying. She had mated with 9-year-old partner Jiao Qing in April, and was also artificially inseminated to increase the likelihood of pregnancy.

While the cubs are born in Berlin, they remain Chinese and must be returned to China within four years after they have been weaned.



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